On November 18, 1985, two titans of the NFL faced off on Monday Night Football. The New York Giants, led by Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor hosted the Washington Redskins, who took the field with Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Theismann at the helm. That game ended with a Redskins win, but it’s mainly remembered by one play that changed the National Football League forever.
In the second quarter, an attempted flea-flicker ended in Theismann being brought down from behind by Taylor. The 36-year-old quarterback’s right leg snapped during the tackle, which ultimately ended his career. Oddly enough, a scary injury fell on the current Redskins quarterback and draws strange comparisons to the past on the exact same day 33 years later.
On November 18, 2018, Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith took a shotgun snap in the third quarter, but the Houston Texans defense immediately broke through and chased him backwards.
Just like Lawrence Taylor 33 years before, another NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, teamed up with Kareem Jackson, both of whom landed on Smith while his Alex’s leg was caught underneath. Smith rolled over, immediately took off his helmet, and this gruesome injury has ended his 2018 season after immediate, emergency surgery.
The parallels between these two injuries — they were both in their mid-30s at the time of their leg injury, both played for the Redskins, and both were injured after the league’s best defensive player brought them down on November 18 — are downright eerie.
Theismann’s injury resulted in his broken leg not healing properly, which left one leg shorter than the other and forced him to retire. The injury changed how important the left tackle position, and the person responsible for protecting a right-handed quarterback’s “blindside,” really is in professional football.
Smith’s diagnosis after breaking both his tibia and fibula in his right leg is still uncertain, but with modern medicine and treatments being far better than the past, Smith will hopefully be ready to go by the start 2019 NFL season.
The 34-year-old quarterback was leading the NFC East division-leading Redskins to a really strong season, winning six of their first nine games. Now, the team will likely turn to eighth-year quarterback Colt McCoy, who finished Sunday’s loss to Houston completing 6-of-12 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Free agent names like Mark Sanchez, E.J. Manuel and Colin Kaepernick have floated around as potential roster replacements for Smith this season, although the latter name will likely not hear a call from Washington any time soon.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden is left with veteran running back Adrian Peterson and safety D.J. Swearinger to help pick up the pieces for a 6-4 team with a lot of questions after this scary injury to their starting quarterback.
Hopefully Smith’s injury heals quickly, but it’s going to be hard to talk about him ever again without mentioning this link between to Washington Redskins quarterbacks.